Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Merry Christmas and stuff

I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, hands down. What’s not to like about a whole month of getting together with friends you haven’t seen in awhile, sharing good food, decorating your house to look all twinkly, singing happy songs you’ve known all your life, and giving and receiving gifts?

And oh, the gifts! When I was a kid, I’d write to Santa asking for everything from a pony to Legos to new clothes, and as I’ve gotten older, my wish list hasn’t gotten any shorter… but this year it has changed a bit. I’m looking around my house and thinking, do I really need more stuff? I barely have enough room to contain all the stuff I already have! And what about the environmental implications of acquiring more stuff?

So I sat down and watched this “Story of Stuff” video. It’s only 20 minutes long, and quite thought-provoking. I’ve never been much for conspiracy theory, but the notion that Americans didn’t have such a love affair with shopping for new possessions until every household contained a television set that ran enticing advertisements designed to make us want bigger/faster/new and improved/MORE! is pretty compelling.

This holiday season, I challenge you to think about your stuff, and the stuff you give to others. Need some ideas for stuff-conscious holiday shopping?

Give an experience, like concert or sporting event tickets from Ticketmaster.

Give food, like fair trade chocolate from Ten Thousand Villages or a fruit basket from Harry and David.

Give online memberships, gift cards, or services, like CooksIllustrated magazine's online portal, Flickr photo site, Amazon gift cards.

Donate to a charity like Heifer International, Sustainable Harvest, Engineers Without Borders.

For more ideas, google "green christmas ideas"... there are lots of good websites out there. Get creative!

While I’m on a feel-good bent… the holidays also happen to be a popular time to volunteer! Did you know that Thanksgiving is THE most requested day to work at soup kitchens? A friend of mine who works with one in downtown Baltimore gently reminds people that while venues may be all booked up for volunteers on Thanksgiving, there are still plenty of time slots to fill on the other 364 days of the year! I read several studies that proved such tangible health benefits associated with volunteering as improved physical fitness, decreased rates of depression, and increased longevity, for starters. Read more at www.nationalservice.gov

1 comment:

current typist said...

Great suggestions! I show the Story of Stuff to my students, and they enjoy and get it...although I'm not sure they erase their wish lists because of it.

Keep up your good--and important--work!